Julie McCloud was saved as an infant from a disease-doomed wagon train. Windmillers Cap and Mike Shanahan raised Julie, teaching her their trade. Since then, she has criss-crossed the plains using her skills to bring water and life to the dry land.
She and her mentors wander into a no-man's land where they are met by three scraggly boys. The orphaned boys need a windmill to help them hold onto their land. Cap, Mike and Julie agree to build one, but there are those determined to see them fail.
In 1863 California, a corrupt lawman reneges on a deal for Luke McCall's mustang herd when 19-year-old Delaney refuses to marry him as part of the purchase. He frames the McCalls as horse thieves for taking the herd back in lieu of payment. They are soon forced to abandon their ranch and flee to Monterey, seeking protection through their friend the sheriff, who tries to prove their innocence.